Cleaning device

Herring is a fish that the shells need to be removed before eating it

The SAK fish-shell scrapers what are they?

Everyone that is into Swiss Army Knives knows that there are some tools that many wonder what is used for and how. It is also called fish scaler or shell scaler.

I will explain my feel on this tool used on Victorinox and Wenger knives. First to mention is that there are many variations on this tool itself in history.

Some fish in saltwater or freshwater got shells on the skin and this must be removed if you are going to fry it and eat the skin. It is not comfortable to chew on shells and they do not taste well either. Some also use the scraper on fish with little or no shells or on a skin type that can be eaten without further cleaning. This is done to do a light cleaning on skin itself without a brush. By just using the scraper lightly over the skin you remove substances and dirt. Then rinse and you can fry it. It is possible to use the knife blade and the edge for this too; both scraping shells and clean the skin.

Another very interesting detail is the tip on this tool. The notch is called a hook disgorger and it is used in the old style to remove a hook from a fish and especially one in the mouth. By just pushing the hook inwards then it will come loose and you can pull it out with the help of the tip. Sometimes this is easier said than done because if the hook is in bone you need to push harder, you can also do a light twist motion. On the picture is the absolute largest type of hook that can be removed with this tool. That is with comfort and without damaging the tool. You have probably seen on old fishing gear used by the older guys that they have a stick with a notch on the tip. It is used on treble hooks or single hooks on larger gear and lures. The problem with treble hooks is when you push it in further that it may hook on again when you pull it out. A plier works best for this.

The tools on SAK are for smaller fish and it can be used inland or at sea with good result. There is also on some of them a line guide but I have not used this much.

Sometimes it is more comfortable to use the fish-shell scraper and not the blade edge to remove shells because it is designed for this and it will not damage the skin.

It is important to clean the function after use and it can take use around saltwater without any problem. Both Victorinox and Wenger are so.

A magnetic tip has been used in history!

The ruler on them can be useful…

We must not forget that this function was used a long time before the introduction of pliers on SAKs in the mid-1980s. The introduction of the plier makes it possible to remove hooks with a better control. The fish-shell scraper and disgorger continued to be on the knives and this is because of the scraper and additional functions on it I believe. SAKs are sportsmen knives and you will find fish related knives without the plier. Usually it is actually the fish-shell scraper that is used and no plier present. The combination of the scraper and scissors is extra good on fish related knives. The combinations of functions together with the scraper are extra interesting and well thought through.

The scraper works best with the right hand and the angle on it towards the fish.

Line guide update


The introduction of a line guide makes it possible to use this for hook disgorging as well. A line guide is made as a tool for distributing the line on a device. This is to prevent a line to clump. On fishing rod reels you use the thumb to distribute the line on the reel if it does not have a line guide mechanism. It would be difficult to use the line guide on SAKs and reel at the same time. This line guide i would expect can be used for more stationary devices to avoid clumping of the line and burning of the fingers.


 The fish scaler got the reputation of being a function that is used very little. It is a function that’s been onboard for a very long time and still liked by many. You will for sure find an evolution to it in the history with some designs on them. Even a magnetic tip can be found on the SAKs.

The fish scaler got a few interesting details like you see from the top on this page and on the pictures today. The tip is made to be used as a hook disgorger. The cut sections or teeth can scrape the shells from the fish. Some fish got a skin that need to be cleaned or scraped before using it for food. On some of them you will also find a line guide section that can be used for several other things too.

On the Victorinox one you can also see a ruler. On YouTube you can find videos about the fish scaler function and see that it is actually a versatile function. I have mentioned several times that Swiss Army Knives are typical sportsmen knives. It is typical especially for Wenger that they used icons to give a strong hint towards what the designation the SAK is best intended for. It can be to identify with an interest, work or hobby. On the picture to the right you can see some examples on icons. Models with sail ship and fish on the scales got the fish scaler functions. Victorinox also got models for fishing and such with icons on the scales while the SwissChamp is a type of SAK that can fit anything. It is so with several of the Wenger models in history too.

If you take a look on my Wenger icons pages with under-pages you can see some more pictures with information.


There can be several reasons for why this function is used so little by many. One is the fact that some fish do not require scraping and another can be cleaning problems. I would not say I am an expert on this but for sure I have done some fishing over the years. Basically it can be very messy no matter what knives you use. Even fixed blade knives should be wiped during use. Fish shells got the tendency to attach like glue on many materials. There are ways to improve this by having something to dry your hands with like a towel and wipe the fish scaler clean after scraping too. By doing so it is much cleaner and less a mess. 


There are many SAKs with heavy functionality in history. Models with many layers can have several designations. Such models with heavy functionality many times had or have the fish scaler functions. Models like these could represent SAKs that could fit almost any interest. It is also the fact that as new functions arrived in history new layers added up.

15:01 here you see a very nice pocket carry:)

30.12.2020 SwissChamp

The hook disgorger is a very nice thing to have. Many fish got small teeth that can make small cuts if you try to remove the hook from inside the mouth. These small cuts can irritate the skin for a longer time. Another factor is the small mouth on smaller fish that makes it difficult to use the fingers. The scraper function with hook disgorger is very nice for sport fishing to be used as an instrument. If you use catch and release it is extra important to remove the hook gently to avoid damage to the fish.

The SwissChamp is an amazing SAK and I am very surprised that it is still considered an MT by many and compared to larger plier based MultiTools of the world. Pliers are also very good for removing hooks and lures. Then you have the possibility to adjust equipment for both land and water. Many times it is an advantage with larger pliers for cutting if you should get a hook through the finger. I have experienced this myself and it is very weird when it goes under the skin and how tough the skin is. It is difficult to just pull it out. Then you need to push it further and around so you can cut it before pulling the backside of the hook out. On fish it is a bit different and for sure the hook disgorger works very well.



The SwissChamp by Victorinox is an example on a Swiss army Knife with many functions but still very functional. It’s not gone past the size for functional use. You find the same with many of the former Wenger SAKs and the transformed editions from Victorinox. You have so many functions that it can fit almost anything. There is a difference between an instrument and larger tools. The plier on it is not strong enough to cut fishing hooks. Many of them are made with tough materials making it necessary to use the SwissTool or Leatherman for example. The SwissChamp is still very popular it seems and by all rights I agree.  There are several functions that can be very handy for fishermen. Having scissors can be very smart to bring. By having scissors you can make very precise cuts with control.


10:43 To finish up this article. Here you see the magnetic tip which is strong enough to hold many smaller metal things. If you drop a small hook between something you can pick it up.

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26.07 | 23:05

Hi and thank you very much for question. The closest I know is the Master Fisherman 1.4753.72. The. 73 is related to what inlay it got maybe. Best Regards Trond

26.07 | 19:22

Hello Trond,
I received a Mechanic in a red/white Victorinox box. The box is stamped item number 1.47 53.73. Do you know what knife goes in this box? Not Mech

01.07 | 23:13

Hi, sure I would like to see, BR.

01.07 | 16:24

Hello Trond.

Would you be interested in seeing progress pictures
Of my custom Champ with Voyager digital clock scales.
I could email them to you.


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